August 2002

Fantastic Four 60

After the success of the Batman ten-cent adventure, Marvel responded with a nine-cent issue (“It’s one less, innit?”) of Fantastic Four. This was the debut issue of the new creative team of writer Mark Waid and artist Mike Wieringo, and it works on many levels – it’s a fun, character-driven issue of the Fantastic Four, but it also serves as Waid and Wieringo’s pitch and mission statement for the comic.

It begins – as many mass-produced creative endeavors do – with a pitch meeting in a corporate office.

Reed has hired a PR team to help up the team’s public profile, giving Waid the opportunity to unleash the brilliantly descriptive term “imaginauts.” Then, Mr. Shertzer begins his work with a tour of the Baxter Building:

Sue and the boys discover a possible reason why Reed might have hired the PR firm:

A week later, the PR team submits art proposals to Mr. Shertzer, who has a different notion of what the Fantastic Four really are:

And, of course, his words are meant to be Waid and Wieringo’s.

But, neither the PR firm nor the other members of the Fantastic Four know the sad truth that Reed reveals to his infant daughter.

Reframing the Fantastic Four as adventurers or “imaginauts” – as opposed to super-heroes – is, of course, brilliant – and not just because of the nod to Jack Kirby’s earlier work on Challengers of the Unknown (a clear conceptual influence on the Fantastic Four). But the real genius here is Waid’s ability to craft a story that, without altering continuity in any way, presents Reed Richard – one of the least likable lead characters in the history of comics – as sympathetic, noble, haunted, and genuinely kind. A wonderful beginning to a truly memorable creative run from Waid and the sorely missed Wieringo.

Filth 3

If the first two issues weren’t disorienting enough, the third issue of The Filth opens inside of a comic book – a fictional comic book universe contained within the fictional comic book universe within the physical comic book you’re holding…

A character working for The Hand is trying to escape the sub-comic book universe, leaving the super-heroes who reside in that comic to contemplate the nature and limitations of their physical universe.

We learn that the “Secret Original” (the Superman analog of this “fictional” fictional universe) had – at some point in the past – crossed over from his universe into the universe of The Hand, and it was not a pleasant experience for him.

Meanwhile, Ned Slade insists that he is indeed Greg Feely. While Slade is tasked with saving the world, Greg is more concerned with burying a dead cat. Also: talking monkey.

Dmitri points out that Slade’s work is Greg’s work writ large.

And Greg doesn’t disagree.

Other Comics I Read from August 2002

  • 100 Bullets 38
  • Alias 13
  • Amazing Spider-Man 44
  • Authority: Kev
  • Automatic Kafka 2
  • Avengers 57
  • Avengers Icons: Vision 1
  • Batman 606
  • Bigg Time
  • Captain America 5
  • Catwoman 10
  • Daredevil 36
  • Detective Comics 773
  • Elektra 13
  • Elektra: Glimpse and Echo 2
  • Flash 189
  • Green Arrow 16
  • Hawkman 6
  • Hellblazer 176
  • Hood 4
  • Incredible Hulk 44
  • JSA 39
  • League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 2
  • Lucifer 29
  • Lucifer: Nirvana
  • New X-Men 130, 131
  • Point Blank 1
  • Powers 22
  • Punisher 15
  • Spider-Man: Quality of Life 4
  • Superman 185
  • Thing: Freakshow 3
  • Transmetropolitan 59
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 25
  • Ultimate X-Men 21
  • X-Statix 2
  • Y: The Last Man 2
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About Author

Rand Bellavia is half of the Filk Pop Nerd Rock band Ookla the Mok. They’ve been playing at science fiction and comic book conventions since 1994. Their clever, media-savvy lyrics, catchy melodies, and accessible power-pop sound have made them a cult-sensation with nerds everywhere. With song titles like Super Powers, Welcome to the Con, Arthur Curry, Kang the Conqueror, and Stop Talking About Comic Books or I’ll Kill You, it’s easy to see why. Rand and Ookla the Mok have won four Pegasus Awards, and the 2014 Logan Award for Outstanding Original Comedy Song. Ookla the Mok had the most requested song on Dr. Demento in 2012 (“Tantric Yoda”) and 2013 (“Mwahaha”). Rand co-wrote the theme song for the Disney cartoon Fillmore, and his vocals are the first thing you hear on Gym Class Heroes’ Top Five hit “Cupid’s Chokehold.” In his secret identity, Rand is the Director of the Montante Library at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York. He has lectured and presented at international conferences on the subject of comics and libraries. Rand is like the Internet, except he smells nice.

2 Comments

  1. Feargal Gallagher on

    This is one of the first comics I ever read, and one of the handful that made me a fan for life. I’ve read the series around this issue piecemeal since then, so wouldn’t have realised that Thor as Deus-ex-machina was being over-used.

    I have since learned that Thor was off on a long exile from Earth, traveling through the cosmos in his own comics during these issues, so the creators had to push to have him in the Avengers at all (I guess they really wanted him there. Also the whole point of the Nefaria saga was to have them face an opponent who seemingly outclassed them all, and part of that would be letting the viewers see that even Thor couldn’t beat him.) So him appearing suddenly out of nowhere is a function of him having to zip across the galaxy for half an issue and then back again in time for his next appearance in his own comic.

    The last page above is still one of the best superhero entrances in all of comics, though.

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